I’d like to take a moment to pay my respects to Deshaun Watson’s season, which was cut short on Wednesday when the rookie quarterback tore his ACL in practice. The whole league will miss the God of the Over. His ability to make something out of nothing made every Texans game must-see-TV. After I stupidly predicted he would have his first bad game of his pro career against the Seattle defense, he went out and threw for 402 yards and four touchdowns (to go with 67 yards on the ground). The NFL needs more players like Watson — and that will be painfully obvious when Tom Savage returns to starting duties this week.
Cam Newton saw his good buddy and top receiver Kelvin Benjamin traded earlier this week. He posted on Instagram about it and didn’t seem to be all that happy about the move. As long as he can get over those hurt feelings, his team should be able to beat the Atlanta Falcons, who needed a comeback to barely cover against the New York Jets last weekend. Newton could very well submit a dreadful performance and sulk his way to a bad loss, but I want the home underdog against a team that has struggled mightily for most of the first half of the season.
This is a corrective measure from what I believed in the beginning of the season — which is that the Saints are bad and the Buccaneers are good. Both of those were wrong and I will prove how gracious I am in my incorrectness by betting on New Orleans, which owns a surprising defense and Alvin Kamara, an exciting back who catches the ball and complements the bruising Mark Ingram. The latter, by the way, has been fantastic since his team ended the ill-fated Adrian Peterson experiment.
Colts/Texans — under 46
See my intro for why I don’t believe in the Houston offense producing much. Savage was supposed to be the Texans’ safe option at quarterback, taking the hits until Watson was ready to start. Instead, he was pulled after starting 7-for-13 for 62 yards while taking six sacks. It was ugly, which is also true of every game Indianapolis has played on the road this season. A total of 46 suggests there is at least one competent offensive attack on the field. That won’t be the case with Watson on the injured reserve.
Washington/Seahawks — over 45
Russell Wilson has been a revelation since Seattle’s Week 6 bye. In the two games since, he’s thrown for 786 yards and seven touchdowns. It seems the Seahawks start slow every season just to take off late for the playoff push. Coincidentally, head coach Pete Carroll appears to have figured out how to play offense without a line: Put the ball in your top-5 quarterback’s hands and let him operate. Kirk Cousins, now free from the pressure of being the future leader of the 49ers after the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, can now stop playing possum and help Washington put points on the board.
The Lions don’t win at Lambeau Field. These two teams have met 175 times in the regular season. The Packers won 100 of those games. That’s domination over a century-plus span. I don’t care if Brett Hundley is under center, it’s smart to bet against Detroit when it faces Green Bay. Never underestimate the Lions’ ability to lose games on the road.
Week 8: 2-3
MATCHUP SPREAD MONEYLINE OVER/UNDER
Denver at Philadelphia PHI -7 DEN +260, PHI -320 +/- 42.5
LA Rams at NYG LAR -3.5 LAR -170, NYG +150 +/- 42
Tampa Bay at New Orleans NO -7 TB +265, NO -325 +/- 51.5
Cincinnati at Jacksonville JAX -5.5 CIN +200, JAX -240 +/- 39.5
Atlanta at Carolina ATL -1.5 ATL -135, CAR +115 +/- 43
Indianapolis at Houston HOU -7 IND +250, HOU -300 +/- 46
Baltimore at Tennessee TEN -3.5 BAL +155, TEN -175 +/- 43.5
Arizona at San Francisco ARI -2.5 ARI -135, SF +115 +/- 39.5
Washington at Seattle SEA -7 WAS +280, SEA -340 +/- 45
Kansas City at Dallas DAL -2 KC +110, DAL -130 +/- 53
Oakland at Miami OAK -3 OAK -155, MIA +135 +/- 44
Detroit at Green Bay DET -2.5 DET -140, GB +120 +/- 43.5
Lines courtesy William Hill; updated Friday, Nov. 3
On bye week: Chicago, Cleveland, LA Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh